Do you often feel a sharp shooting pain in teeth after sipping steamy coffee or biting ice-cream? If so, your teeth are sensitive and you should not be worried about being alone. There are so many people around the world that suffer from the sensitivity of teeth.
Often this pain is caused when you eat hot or cold foods and beverages. The only risk is that it could be an early sign of cavity but it is not always the case. A cavity in teeth affects people, which suffer from a long-term sensitivity problem.
The sensitivity of teeth is medically called dentin hypersensitivity. It exactly means what it sounds like. It is a hypersensitive response of the body towards a stimulus. For us, these stimuli is mostly a food item that has drastic temperature i.e. it is too cold or too hot.
Sensitivity could be a short time or a long-term problem. It doesn’t always affect one single tooth. There could be many teeth affected by it. There are a number of factors that affect sensitivity. In most of the cases, it is just a problem of poor dental hygiene.
Symptoms of having sensitive teeth
The people, who have sensitive teeth often experience a discomfort in their teeth which is triggered by certain food items. The exact location of this pain is the roots of the teeth. The most common triggers to initiate this pain are as follows.
- Hot food
- Cold food
- Hot beverage
- Cold beverage
- Cold air
- Sweet foods
- Sweet beverages
- Acidic foods
- Acidic beverages
The only symptom that you will experience is the pain in teeth. It may bring inflammation of gums too. In some cases, the patient also suffers from a fever which is a secondary effect of tooth sensitivity and pain.
What causes sensitivity?
Sensitivity is sometimes natural. People naturally have more sensitive teeth than others. The reason is that their teeth enamel is thinner whereas the other people have thick enamel. The enamel is the outer covering of the teeth, which protects it.
When sensitivity is not a natural phenomenon, it occurs when the enamel of teeth is worn down. There are several reasons that can affect your teeth enamel to destruct. For example
- If you brush your teeth very hard
- If you are using a very hard toothbrush
- If you have a habit of grinding the teeth in night
- If you are a lover of acidic foods and drinks
- If you don’t practice a good oral hygiene routine
These are the general reasons that cause sensitivity. Sometimes there are other conditions too, which cause tooth sensitivity. For example,
- Gastroesophageal reflux or GERD play a role as it causes the acid to reverse to the mouth.
- Conditions in which a person frequently vomits i.e. gastroparesis and bulimia.
- Gum recession
- Tooth decay
- Injury to tooth
- Broken tooth
- Chipped tooth
- Worn down fillings/crowns
Sometimes the sensitivity is temporary. It is a result of dental treatments such as filling crown or teeth bleaching. However, in this case, sensitivity hits you only for some time. And the major area of feeling sensitivity is around the treated tooth.
It goes away on its own within a few days and doesn’t require a treatment.
How to diagnose if you have sensitive teeth?
If the sensitivity is hitting you for the first time, you should not experiment or take it lighter. Make an appointment with the dentist as soon as you figure it out. The dentist can physically check your teeth and locate the problem area. If there are cavities causing pain or lose fillings, it is easily identified.
Once the underlying reason is diagnosed, the dentist will prescribe you with the right choice of medicine. The dentist can also perform this checkup during your routine dental examination.
If it is not obvious by physical examination, he may recommend you to go through an x-ray of teeth to identify cavities.
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Is there a treatment for sensitivity?
If your teeth sensitive are mild which comes and go on its own, it is better to try over the counter dental products. Certain products like toothpaste and mouthwash are specially made for sensitive teeth. These products have the soothing effect and usually, they are free from any irritating ingredient.
Mostly, these products use desensitizing ingredients in them, which help you by blocking the discomfort that travels to the nerve of the tooth. In this way, the pain is eased. Whenever you select a mouthwash, make sure it doesn’t have alcohol in it. Avoid the products with alcohol, as they will make your discomfort increase.
Using a softer and good quality toothbrush is also recommended. This soft toothbrush will be labeled to be soft or extra soft. Whenever you go out to buy a toothbrush, spend time in finding the one that isn’t too harsh on your teeth.
All of these things are not as such a treatment for dental sensitivity. Only they will help to reduce the sensitivity gradually. It requires several applications of these things to work. The results will be obvious after a couple of weeks.
If it doesn’t get any better even after trying these home-based tricks, you should immediately see a dentist. The medicinal treatment for sensitive teeth is medicines with fluoride or prescription-grade desensitizing agent. These products make the enamel strengthen and in this way it protects your teeth.
Treating underlying conditions that trigger tooth sensitivity
If there is an underlying condition behind your teeth sensitivity, it should be treated to get rid of the sensitive teeth. If you identify it correctly, there will not be any more enamel damage.
If the reason behind sensitive teeth is GERD, it can be treated with specific medicines. Drugs that are acid reducers and bulimia can help in this case.
If receding gums is the reason, brushing gently can treat it. It will further reduce if you happen to maintain a good oral hygiene. When the sensitivity is intense and you suffer from extreme pain, the dentist will recommend you to use a gum graft.
This is a process, which takes the tissue from your palate and grafts it over the root. It protects the enamel of the tooth and sensitivity is reduced.
You can also switch your habits of grinding teeth while sleeping or involuntary. Reduce your caffeine intake, do not smoke or drink before going to bed. If it feels difficult to do, try using a mouthguard in the night, which will protect you from grinding the teeth.
The take away on sensitive teeth
If the sensitivity of teeth is causing problems in your daily life especially during eating or drinking, it is the right time to consult a dentist. He can help to find you a solution.
If you want to try the self-remedies, there are many kinds of toothpaste and mouthwashes available in the market which are particularly designed for sensitive teeth. Try them for once before you go to a dentist.
If these over the counter products are not helpful, your dentist will give you specific medication, based on the cause of sensitivity. Consult to a dentist that has experience of dealing cavities or sensitivity-linked cavities.
In case of root damage, he will give you a quick treatment right away. It will prevent you from the future complications. These complications may include the following.
- Sharp root pain that occurs without an obvious reason
- Tooth sensitivity for only one tooth
- Sharp shooting pain, which is unbearable
- Staining on the surface of teeth
- Difficulty eating and drinking food
- Increased risk of dental infections